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Lawmakers cannot carry pens inside voting chamber in prez poll: EC

New Delhi: Legislators and parliamentarians who will vote to elect the country’s next President cannot carry their personal pens into the voting room, the Election Commission or EC said today. The EC said the lawmakers will be instead given a “special marker” to sign their ballot.

“Before entering the voting chamber, a polling staff will collect personal pens from the voters and hand over the special pen to mark their vote on the ballot paper,” an EC spokesperson said.

The serial-numbered pens are filled with a violet ink approved by the EC.

“When the member comes out of the voting chamber, the special pen will be taken back and the polling staff will return the personal pen,” the spokesperson said.

The EC said using any other pen will invalidate the vote during counting under the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Rules, 1974.

In the Rajya Sabha polls for Haryana in June 2016, the votes of 12 legislators were declared invalid on the ground that they were inked using wrong pens. Then EC then decided to use special pens for electors to mark their votes in the presidential and vice presidential elections.

Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited, which supplies indelible ink to the EC, made the pens. The EC will make the lawmakers aware of the new rule by putting up posters. It has told lawmakers not to issue any whip or directive to party members to vote in favour of either of the two candidates – the National Democratic Alliance’s Ram Nath Kovind or the United Progressive Alliance’s Meira Kumar. Since it is a secret ballot, voters should not disclose whom they have voted for, the EC said.

Green ballot papers are for Members of Parliament and pink ballot papers are for Members of Legislative Assembly. The value of an MLA’s vote depends on the population of the state he or she represents. But the value of an MP’s vote does not vary — it is 708. So the coloured papers will help returning officers count the votes based on the value.

PTI